Hey y'all,

With the arrival of our first trickle of spring migrants, we can officially 
claim spring is in full swing.  That means the frugivores have consumed the 
winter's Brazilian pepper crop and made their appropriate seed deposits.

The park-like manicure of the area we refer to as "the mulberry tree" on 
Mullet Key has been left to go wild.  It may take a little getting used to 
but already the birds seem to be enjoying it with a good flock of Palms and 
Yellow-rumps I watched a couple of weeks ago covering the out-of-control 
Bermuda grass.  I'm willing to bet the buntings and grosbeaks will be thick 
there in a couple of weeks.

I also noticed a scattered collection of young Brazilian pepper saplings 
between three inches and three feet tall were beginning to make themselves 
obvious.  The thought of an  impenetrable tangle of mature bushes inside of 
a year made me shiver.  I began pulling them up by the roots until I was 
satisfied I had reclaimed enough of the area to continue birding.

I was back there last weekend and believe I am not the only one hoping to 
eliminate the trees before they become a problem.  While a few new saplings 
had sprouted, for the most part there were few peppers and lots of salt bush 
dotting the field.

I stopped at the ranger station and spoke with the two guys on duty who 
encouraged me to keep pulling the insidious devils wherever I find them. 
With that endorsement I asked if I could post a note to the other birders 
who enjoy the area and was told they would welcome the assist.  It seems the 
park personnel are already working on controlling several other 
things--tourists, racoons, Australian pines and a lone coyote!

On the way home I was going over what one of the rangers said about how it 
might be impossible to keep the peppers out of the area and then quickly 
added, "but if there are enough of you, I suppose you can pull them up 
faster than they can grow."

Let's hope so.

Lee Snyder
St Petersburg

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